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Michael Bloomberg

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On April 24, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a digital trove of 870,000 photographs, maps and videos that document more than 150 years of Big Apple history, starting in 1858. Among the highlights is a series of images showcasing the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, which opened to the public 129 years ago on Thursday.

The evocative, black-and-white photographs are not only remarkable for the intimate and playful details they capture, including a shot of workers painting the Brooklyn Bridge in 1914—without harness!—but also because they were taken by an amateur photographer named Eugene de Salignac, who was a municipal worker from 1906-1934.

Eugene de Salignac

Under the bridge on the Brooklyn side, 1918.

“He was an extremely talented photographer who was tasked with documenting the building of the city,” says Eileen Flannelly, New York City’s deputy commissioner for the department of records. “Unfortunately, he didn’t get recognition for his images during his lifetime. He was just a civil service employee, really unknown. I don’t think people really understood then that he was showing us how our city was built.”

The push to unveil this digital archive has been in the works for nearly four years, and it’s likely to become a hallmark achievement for Mayor Bloomberg, who has made it a mission to support technological initiatives during his tenure. Other photographs from the archive give viewers an inside look at the city’s grisly crime scenes, old Times Square and various borough presidents’ offices. “I look at the crime scene and it’s like looking at an old gangster movies—they’re fascinating because they don’t look real,” Flannelly says. “Then I look at pictures from the ‘80s and see how much the city has changed. It’s fascinating because you don’t have to go too far back to see how far we’ve come.”

The New York City Municipal Archives Photo Gallery can be browsed online here.

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In this week’s photos from around New York, two dogs prepare for a ‘wedding,’ the Orchestre Septentrional performs in Brooklyn, Mayor Michael Bloomberg kisses Miss Piggy and more.


A woman received support from other bystanders at First Avenue and 119th Street. A 23-year-old armed robbery suspect was shot and killed Thursday by a retired New York Police Department lieutenant who happened upon a Harlem shootout, authorities said. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


Gwen Rakotovao, a 25-year-old dancer and model from France, got her makeup done by Michelle Coursen for a profile picture for the social-networking site Badoo. (Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)


Anonda Olchewsky, 6, looked at tortoises in the reptile house at the Bronx Zoo April 5. (Mark Abramson for The Wall Street Journal)


From left, halibut, mahi mahi, and tuna ceviche and popcorn with lemon oil at Pampano Botaneria on East 49th Street. (Agaton Strom for The Wall Street Journal)


Michel Tassy sang during the Orchestre Septentrional performance in Brooklyn April 7. The Orchestre Septentrional has been making music since 1948 and is perhaps Haiti’s quintessential big band. (Kate Lord/The Wall Street Journal)


A tablescape called ‘Harbor Island’ designed by Alessandra Branca was on view at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House’s Annual Spring Gala Wednesday at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal)


Dingoes occupy the new dingo kennel at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)


All three of New York’s public library systems are conducting or planning expansive renovations that reflect a shift in whom they serve, and how. Shown, the Queens Library’s Discovery Center, which opened last year. (Mark Abramson for The Wall Street Journal)


Braised Brussels sprouts, pancetta and oregano at Indie, a new cafe at the Film Society at Lincoln Center. (Kate Lord/The Wall Street Journa)


Filmmaker Jonas Mekas has a drink at Cafiero Lussier on East Second Street. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)


The smoked Gouda and fig grilled cheese sandwich at Say Cheese at 142 West 83rd St. in Manhattan. (Byron Smith for The Wall Street Journal)


Dogs Piper, left, and Boo, right, sat on either side of their owner, Orfeh, at Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan April 5. In mid-May, the two dogs will ‘wed’ at an event meant to bring awareness to animal adoption. (Rob Bennett)


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg kissed Miss Piggy as Kermit the Frog watched at a news conference in New York Friday. Mr. Bloomberg announced the Muppets are the city’s official ‘Family Ambassadors,’ to encourage families to travel to the city. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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